We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)
It is important that you all know how faithfully and regularly you are prayed for. Your Bishop, your District Superintendents, the Assistant to the Bishop and the Directors of Congregational Development and Connectional Ministries hold you all in prayer each and every week. We know that this pandemic year has been especially difficult for all of us. We understand the feelings of loss and separation caused when we cannot gather together in person for worship, but we applaud all of you who are taking every precaution to care for each other and to protect each other’s health and well-being. These days of "social distancing" will one day come to an end.
We pray for the families and friends of those afflicted with the COVID-19 virus, offering special prayers for those who have lost loved ones to this terrible disease. We fully acknowledge that this coronavirus affects people very differently, but many people have had their health devastated and they will never be fully recovered. Never in our lifetimes have we faced such a global threat.
But through it all, you have remained faithful. The mission and ministry of our Wisconsin Conference, though more difficult to perform, continues in faithful service to our communities and world in meaningful ways. This is because of your "works of faith and labors of love." We give thanks for all you do, and we pray that you stay steadfast in your hope in Jesus Christ.
This has been a year of civil and racial unrest and injustices against racial and ethnic minorities. This has been a year of anxiety and concern about our future. This has been a year of economic challenge and devastating employment changes for millions of people. Yet, our God is good. Christians around the world and across our country are calling for societal and systemic change. We are learning to put the common good ahead of individual entitlements. We are envisioning ways to be more just, kind, merciful, and loving. We seek transformative ways to be better. Out of terrible trials and challenging conditions emerge God’s will and grace. You are God’s people. You are the body of Christ. You are loved and prayed for, and we give God thanks for you all.
Merciful Lord, you have blessed us with blessed brothers and sisters, divine siblings who hold firm in their faith and who work together for good. We truly are blessed to be a blessing to one another. Keep us grounded in our faith and committed to your good work, we pray together in Jesus’ name. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).